Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Organized Irresponsibility


Japan's highest court has decided the government is not responsible for the Fukushima disaster:

Mari Yamaguchi (June 17, 2022). Japan Top Court: Government Not Responsible for Fukushima Disaster. The Diplomat. https://thediplomat.com/2022/06/japan-top-court-government-not-responsible-for-fukushima-disaster/

Of course this ruling is no surprise because today governments and large organizations are legally exempt from responsibility. The zeitgeist is organized malignancy.

Crises, such as the Fukushima nuclear crisis and the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, reveal organized irresponsibilities and deceptions that serve sectional, not universal, interests.

A post I wrote in 2011 is particularly relevant for this latest example.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Former Japanese Prime Minister Kan Describes Fukushima Disaster as "Man-Made"The Yomiuri Shimbun reports on September 7 page 3:

[excerpted] "The ongoing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant should be considered a "man-made disaster," and poor communication with the plant's operator hindered the initial government response, former Prime Minister Naoto Kan has told The Yomiuri Shimbun....

..."There in fact were various opinions [regarding the safety of the plant] before the accident, but no well-thought-out preparations were made," he said. "In that sense, the nuclear accident should be considered a man-made disaster."

Referring to the response to the accident by the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency and the Cabinet Office's Nuclear Safety Commission, Kan said the two watchdogs had been "unable to foresee the possibility that all power sources could be lost" at the nuclear complex.

As a result, neither the agency nor the commission could deal effectively with the circumstances that arose after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out the plant's cooling systems, he said.

Kan said there also were problems with the flow of information from the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co...."


Ulrich Beck describes this type of man-made disaster in relation to a system of organized irresponsibility. The interview can be found here:

Here is my summary of his analysis of Fukushima as an unlimited catastrophe caused by organized irresponsibility. This type of system is characteristic of corporatacry--rule by corporations, also described as state socialism or fascism:

Ulrich Beck, a sociologist of risk, was interviewed about the Fukushima catastrophe in July of 2011. Ulrich described the Fukushima nuclear event as a “catastrophe” that “is unlimited in space, time and the social dimension. It's the new kind of risk” (Beck, 2011).

When asked how such risks are produced, Beck responded: “Risks depend on decision making. The risk depends on the process of modernization. And they're produced with technological innovations and investment.” Beck denied that the disaster could have resulted simply from unforeseeable natural catastrophes

[Beck's comments in block quote] "the decision to build an atomic industry in the area of an earthquake is a political decision; it's not done by nature. It's a political decision, which has to be justified in the public and which has been taken by parliament, by businesses and so on…. I think industries try to define it as something which has been done by nature. But they don't realize that we are living in an age where the decision making is the primary background for these kinds of catastrophes. I think it's very important to realize this because modernity, or even what you could say is the victory of modernity, produces more and more uncontrollable consequences." [end block quote]

Beck observes that with Fukushima and other modern risks stemming from human decision making “we have a system of organized irresponsibility: Nobody really is responsible for those consequences. We have a system of organized irresponsibility, and this system has to be changed.”

Beck observes, in accord with the argument made in this chapter, that the denial of responsibility—the system of organized irresponsibility—requires the populace and the state to assume costs of disasters. In this important sense, Beck points out, “And actually, this is a contradiction to capitalism and the market economy. We have the same discussion actually in relation to the banking system; it's quite similar. Actually, the banks should take care of possible crises, and maybe they should have an insurance principle as well. But they don't, so actually the state has to take it. This is socialism; this is state socialism.”

The type of system Beck is describing is not the system of capitalism fetishized by Adam Smith and described by Foucault in his account of the two liberal subjects, homo economicus and the political subject of rights. The market system that has developed eschews the competition and entrepreneurialism so valorized by economists like Joseph Schumpeter.

Rather the system described here is defined by the large entities that so dominate political decision making and processes that they are able to extract value from the rest of the populace in ways that are not simply exploitive, but life threatening.

These systems deliberately obscure responsibility. Humans are merely means, not ends, within this system. Lacking value within the calculus of decision-making, human lives are expendable.

Thus, the corporate game is to invent complicated risk-scenarios that imply that the terrible effect of the decision to devalue life itself was unpredictable, unforseen.

And so the system appears neutral and blameless and the individuals who operate in the system appear as mere appendages, devoid of the capacities of foresight and humanity.

It is through this system of organized irresponsibility that humans will guarantee their extinction.